AT&T introduces pay-as-you-go Internet.

This morning when I fired up my web browser to get the day’s news, I was taken to a page on AT&T’s web site telling me that my modem needed to be replaced. Odd, I’ve been using the same modem for years without any problems, now all of a sudden I need to replace it?

This same page offered details on the new modem I would have to purchase. It costs only $30 and offers faster connection speeds than what I had before. I would also be switched to a cheaper usage plan in which I only pay for it when I use it. Before I knew it, I was off to the store, thinking I was in for a good bargain.

When I arrived at the store, I saw a small group of customers standing in front of a shelf that was stocked with the new modems. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. But before I could grab one of the modems, I noticed that these customers were just standing there, reading the words that were printed on the package. I figured these new modems would be practically flying off the shelves but this would not be the case.

I picked up one of the packages and read the print. Faster speeds! Pay As You Go! Save Money! The usual marketing hype. But then I saw what else was included with the modem. It looked like a calculator, presumably to remind you of how much money you’re saving but from trying it out, it instead reflected on what my bill would be. It had a stopwatch function that showed my bill going up exponentially the longer it ran.

With a sigh, I put the modem back on the shelf, completely ignoring a sticker on the package that said that also enclosed was a free copy of uTorrent. Also printed on the sticker was a disclaimer that AT&T does not endorse the use of torrent networks. Of course.

I left the store in quiet disappointment. AT&T has struck again.

This concludes the details of a dream I had before waking up this morning. But don’t worry, none of the dreams I’ve had in the past have ever come true, and hopefully this won’t either, that is, as long as AT&T doesn’t see this post while they’re scouring the Web in search of new marketing ideas. When they do, though, we’ll all be in deep doo-doo.

AT&T vs. Linux, Round one.

At work today I was working with a customer who was having difficulty connecting to the Internet from their desktop computer. Every time they tried going to a web site, they were re-directed to the AT&T High-Speed Installation page, the first page that comes up after setting a new DSL modem. This page guides new users through the process of creating their user accounts and then configures the modem with their logon information. For the customer to keep reaching this page sounded like their modem just needed to be re-configured with their member ID and network password. But when the customer tried entering that information at the Installation page, they got some message about their operating system not being supported. Further probing revealed that operating system to be Linux. I tried to have the customer access their modem’s interface through their web browser but they still got that same Installation page. It didn’t look good.

Fortunately the customer had an iPad handy, and she used that to connect to the Installation page and enter their existing account information. Afterwards the modem was configured accordingly and they were back in business.

During the course of troubleshooting, I did some research about the relationship between AT&T and Linux, and I came across this page which bears an eerie resemblance to the issue at hand. In fact, I found myself making the same references to having a Windows computer handy to configure the modem.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what AT&T has against Linux. It may be too busy trying accommodate Microsoft and Apple to have any time to provide support to alternate operating systems such as Linux. Or maybe it doesn’t want to, for reasons unclear. Still, I sense that Linux is gaining popularity and it’s only going to be a matter of time before it finally catches up to the competition. Maybe then these telecommunication giants will finally take notice and reach the same conclusion that the rest of us have known all along, that Linux is here to stay.